Violent protest ends in tragedy at Fairview as loose horse suffers fatal injury

Riot police were forced to intervene after a labour dispute at South Africa's Fairview racecourse on Thursday morning ended in tragic circumstances when a horse died.

The Public Order Police had to be called to restore order at the Port Elizabeth venue after a protest, which is believed to have been initiated by grooms formerly employed by trainer Yvette Bremner, turned violent.

Several horses in Bremner's care were let out of their stables and chased out of the complex by the crowd. One of her charges, Mark The Doorman, died after running into a fence and breaking his neck according to a vet on site.

Two other horses were reported to have suffered injuries to their shoulders in the melee but are expected to make full recoveries.

More than 20 horses are said to have been set loose in the protest with all of the remainder safely back in their stables by the time the vets were treating those who had suffered injuries.

Phumelela, the horseracing and totaliser operator responsible for running Fairview, issued a statement saying it was liaising with the Department of Labour in a bid to resolve the dispute between Bremner and her former employees. It said it had also called in additional private security personnel to assist the police in protecting people and horses in the complex.

The protest, which is said to have been attended by up to 200 people, started around 6am local time with the police reported to have restored order and the group dispersed before 9am.

Phumelela, who said they intend to liaise with police to ensure that all those responsible for the unrest are prosecuted, continue to monitor the situation closely with a decision expected to be made as to whether Friday's meeting at the track can go ahead.